Coaches, Leaders Call Out NCAA to Remove Competition in States With Anti-Trans Athlete Bills

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Several athletes, advocates and allies held a virtual press conference Friday calling on the NCAA to withdraw its athletic events from states considering transgender legislation.

More than two dozen states are considering anti-transgender legislation.

Lynx head coach Cheryl Reeve, Lynx forward Naphessa Collier, former NCAA champion and transgender athlete CeCé Telfer and Human Rights Campaign president Alphonso David, among others, shared their thoughts on the inclusion of transgender athletes in sports.

The "Let Them Play" virtual conference comes after NCAA President Mark Emmert released a letter opposing anti-transgender legislation but did not provide specific measures for states that have passed legislation or are considering the possibility of passing anti-transgender legislation. 

More than 55 anti-transgender legislation bills have been discussed across 30 states in the country, according to Human Rights Campaign Legislative Director Cathryn Oakley.

Before the NCAA men's and women's basketball championships last week, Emmert wrote a letter speaking out against transgender legislation in sports.

"The NCAA is concerned with the numerous bills that have been filed across our country related to sport participation, "Emmert said in the letter. "As we have previously stated in situations such as Idaho's House Bill 500 and its resulting law, this legislation is harmful to transgender student-athletes and conflicts with the NCAA's core values of inclusivity, respect and treatment of all individuals."

Emmert also stated that the NCAA Board of Governors required championship sites to discuss how they will develop an environment that does not include discrimination. 

States across the country in favor of passing anti-transgender legislation argue that they are protecting women's sports while those who disagree say that it threatens competition among athletes. 

Transgender advocates and athletes feel that more should be done by the NCAA.

MORE: The Next Cultural Battle: States Take Aim at Trans Athletes

"As a trans athlete, I am not a threat to women's sports because I am a woman," Telfer said. "There is no advantage that I have.

"The joy and beauty of finally embracing myself being in a sport that I love and being on that line with the women I'm supposed to be with, it's enlightening. I really think the NCAA can do more, and that's all that we are asking."

Reeve, who recently spoke out for inclusion of trans athletes in an op-ed for Sports Illustrated, said the bigger problem facing women's sports is lack of resources and the disparities.

MORE: Cheryl Reeve: We All Win When Trans Athletes Are Included

"What's really harming women's sports is an overall lack of investment in resources of athletes, opportunities to coach in the profession, lack of pay or severe pay disparities," Reeve said. "The notion that motivation of transgender athletes is to gain scholarships or score a competitive advantage is simply a false narrative."